Demonstrators clashed outside the Mexican consulate Friday in Philadelphia over the thousands of Central American children streaming across the U.S.-Mexico border.
The collision of opinions echoes protests across the country over housing the migrant children who have left their homes in Guatemala, Honduras or El Salvador.
Standing across from Independence Mall, Gail Amin said she doesn’t want government resources going to care for the children detained in the U.S. or funding any legal representation for them.
“I want our people taken care of. We’re being neglected,” she said, while wearing a sign reading, “Americans need jobs.”
Others with her held signs that said “no amnesty” and called the influx of Central Americans an “invasion.”
Standing to the side while Amin spoke, Robert Brand repeated that she was talking about children. He criticized what he calls a cynical move by the political right to scare Americans.
“Our job is to protect children, and the fact that these kids came from 500 miles from our border doesn’t matter,” Brand insisted. “The job of adults is to protect children.”
Advocates for the immigrants had organized a counter-response to the demonstration soon after it was announced as part of a national effort organized by Americans for Legal Immigration. They ended up outnumbering the protesters by about 10 to one.
Standing amid the crowd, Celia Mota from Mexico expressed the conflicted feelings of some Latino immigrants, who may not affected by gang violence of Central America, over children making such a dangerous journey across multiple borders.
“It puts them at risk,” Mota said in Spanish. “Not only of the coyotes, but of the drug traffickers. It’s too big of a risk for minors.”
More than 40,000 Central America children have left the violence of their countries trip this year only to be detained at the U.S. border. Many others have been turned back by authorities in Mexico.